Flip The Switch! A Coda & Serum Q&A
Switch!… What started as a humble monthly party in Vienna has since become a serious label to be reckoned with.
This week sees the delivery of their fifth release, a gargantuan doublet from label boss Coda and the mighty Serum. With both cuts tapping into deepest, darkest roots of D&B’s most formative era, we had to find out more.
Coda… Please bring everyone up to speed on all things Switch!
Coda: It started back in 2007 at a club in Vienna. Pandora, my partner-in-crime, and myself wanted to start a night as we felt the city was missing out on the party, jump up, fun side of D&B. After running the event for a couple of years we noticed the interest in jump up was really taking hold and we were seeing lots of young, Austrian kids online starting to produce some really good sounds such as Dorian, Skore and Nayz. We set the label up in 2011 with the first release being a collab between myself and Zen – Joints / Big Up – Zen’s profile really helped kick start the label and gave us a great platform to build from and provide for upcoming talent.
So how did this hook-up with Serum come about, then? Straight-up over-the-net job or did you get time to share some vibes in the studio together?
Coda: We met initially through our club night in Vienna, we had Mark over for our second birthday, if I remember rightly. Turned out we shared a love of Belgian beer as well as music! The studio link up was delayed many times due to The Dovetail pubs and their Delirium Tremens! Mark does not live too far from me so we get a fair amount of actual studio time, we still send bit and bobs though over the net. Witchcraft and Vibrations were both done at Mark’s, our forthcoming track Hindsight (which is due out on Charge) was an online collab, so we work both ways. Whatever suits.
Serum: I always prefer working with people in the studio rather than online. It makes you knuckle down and get the job done and you really learn about someone’s approach that way.
Whether you worked on the track in isolation or together have you learned anything about each other’s techniques?
C: I’ve learned loads from Mark, and Zen too. Until working with these guys I was really struggling with In The Box mix-downs The conversion from a desk took me ages. I always pick up some new little piece of knowledge when at Mark’s; delay tricks, EQ things that have always passed me by… those Alan Partridge moments that are so glaringly obvious in hindsight.
S: We’ve both learned a lot from working together and it has meant I can break out from the other music I’ve been doing and make something different.
Serum… What’s Coda’s finest studio skill?
S: He has a good ear for a hook and lots of fresh ideas that I’d never have myself. Plus he has that very simple and raw sound that’s right up my street. A lot of people can’t get that right.
Coda… What’s Serum’s finest studio skill?
C: Hmmmmmm…. The home made brews that accompany every session…. Close call with the BBQ ribs though! Musically, his ability to understand what I mean when trying to describe a sound, i.e the underwater bass sound in Vibrations.
The whole EP has got a really nice homage feel… Not old school for the sake of old school, but more a deep understanding of D&B heritage and roots. A reminder of where we all came from, if you will. Am I right?
C: We’re both into the late 90s sounds; Undiluted, V, True Playaz, Formation, Full Cycle etc etc. For me ‘98 through to around ‘02/’03 is my favourite period and I try to always nod that way when making a tune, my tune Shodan on Audio Danger Recs being an almost horizontal lean towards Alien Girl and/or Tomb Raider.
S: Most of the music I’ve released has a retro sound to it based on some style or other from my youth. Working with Coda really helped me to take the sounds I loved in the late 90s to early 00s and modernise it.
Let’s chat about the individual tracks. Witchcraft – Such a bassline! Such sharp beats! So simple, so deadly, so 90s…
C: It’s been said so many times, ‘simple is best’. Personally, I am really inspired by Die, Optical & Dillinja. I just love how, whether the tune is a dark roller, angry tear out or jump up, they manage to get a serious amount of funk, flow & musicality into their tunes. Something I try to emulate.
S: The sort of influences I was looking at for these tracks are people like Mampi Swift, Brockie & Ed Solo, Breakbeat Era. People who made quite stripped back and stark sounding music but with a really nice groove and texture to it.
Ever practiced in the dark art of witchcraft? Or had relations with a witch?
C: Not the dark side, but can do a few magic tricks! Used to teach the kids some when I worked in summer camps in Austria.
S: I can make a kebab disappear very quickly!
Ha! If you could cast a few spells, what would you cast and why?
C: It would be fun to be able to slow time down, you could play some great pranks.
S: It would have to be traveling back in time or teleporting. If I could go back in time I’d go to all the amazing raves I missed out on from the late 80s onwards. Teleporting would also mean no long journeys back home after gigs.
That’s the dream. Moving on to Vibrations… I’m hearing Alien Girl style vibes in among the heavyweight chuginess… Please can you give me your earliest experiences of hard, sharp neuro business and how it affected your musical make up.
C: Having spent a large portion of my life in Vienna, I was sort of dunked head first in the neuro sound! Around 2000 the Renegade Hardware/Virus/BC sounds reigned supreme in Vienna. Although I never lost my love of Jump Up or GLR style. The Hardware sound definitely has had an influence on me musically, as I do like to try and recreate vibes that I felt from those tunes, the soundscapes and progressions are something that is rarer today.
S: I didn’t really get the whole techy sound at first. I was most keen on tracks with hiphop or reggae influences and funkier beats so it took a while to get into that but it happened in the end. I always liked a real ugly crunchy bassline though.
In answer to the vocal sample, yes I would like to take a little trip… Where in the UK is your favourite place to take a little trip to?
C: I like places that are quiet. Had a nice trip to Bude with the wee one last year. Devon and Cornwall were really nice.
S: It depends what mood I’m in but right now I’d like to be somewhere in a nice old fashioned country pub.
And where in Austria?
S: At Switch of course, definitely one of the friendliest crowds I’ve played to. It’s just like going out with a bunch of mates back home.
C: In Austria would have to Obertraun up in the mountains near Salzburg. Amazing setting! You can go through the oldest known salt mines and, the BEST bit, you get to slide down 3000 year old miner’s slides inside the mountains!!!!
WOW! Where else in the world are we tripping?
S: I’d love to go back to Japan.
C: Anywhere will do for me, so long as they have interesting local beer.
Speaking of vibrations… Please can you all give me one tune that really oozes positive vibrations? One tune that instantly puts a massive smile on your face…
S: Isaac Hayes – Theme from shaft
C: Hollie Cook – Ari Up
Any more Serum/Coda co-lab business to come in the future?
C: Yeah, for sure. We have done a techy roller called Hindsight which will be coming on my debut Charge Recs EP. We also have two or three projects in the bowl slowly coming to boil at the moment, plus a remix of which we’re very proud to have been able to do! Can’t really say just yet!
And what’s coming up on Switch!?
C: Following up from Witchcraft / Vibrations we have the re-release of 2N’s White Rabbit EP and Dorian, Skore & Nayz’s ‘Whore Island EP’. They’ll be arriving on September 1 and September 15 respectively. Then we have Version – Pear Drop / Cycler in October, a release in the making from Rawtee and an EP from myself which should include the massive remix of Zen & Coda – Joints courtesy of the G13 boys, Rowney & Propz. Keep ears peeled and on our Soundcloud for up to date sound files.
Find out more…